Key House Panel Reverses Administration’s Cut To Armenia And Maintai

17.07.2008 12:12

The House Foreign Operations Subcommittee approved $52 million in
assistance to Armenia and $8 million for Nagorno Karabakh, as well as
$3 million in Foreign Military Financing for Armenia and Azerbaijan,
reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

The Bush Administration initially proposed to cut funding to Armenia
by nearly 60 percent from $58.5 million in FY 2008, to a proposed
level of $24 million in FY 2009. In addition, the Administration
had requested that $5 million of the funds to Armenia allocated in
FY 2007, be directed out of Armenia, which triggered a response by
Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). In a letter
sent to House Foreign Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita
Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Member Frank Wolf (R-VA), they urged that
funding be re-programmed to support democracy efforts in Armenia: "As
friends of Armenia, and more importantly, as advocates of democracy,
we urge you to support the transfer of funds to help nurture Armenia’s
democracy as opposed to stifling it. Armenia would benefit greatly
from more democracy and good governance programming."

The Assembly commends the efforts of Congressman Knollenberg (R-MI)
for sending a strong message regarding Azerbaijan’s continued war
rhetoric during today’s consideration of the House Foreign Operations
Appropriations Bill. The Knollenberg amendment sought to zero out
military funding for Azerbaijan. The amendment was not approved by
a vote of 7 in favor and 8 against.

In its testimony before the Subcommittee earlier this year, the
Assembly also raised strong concerns stating that "given the recent
rapid militarization of Azerbaijan combined with unabated war and hate
rhetoric against Armenia, we strongly recommend the Subcommittee to
withhold any military funding to Azerbaijan."

"We appreciate the hard work of the Subcommittee members and especially
appreciate Congressman Knollenberg’s leadership on this important
initiative," said Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "We are
confident that Members will be looking at additional steps to address
Azerbaijan’s war mongering."